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Ookla: Smart outpaces competition in first half of 2020

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PLDT and Smart is the country’s fastest fixed and mobile internet networks in the first half of 2020, based on analysis by Ookla of tests taken with the Speedtest application.

Ookla reported that PLDT achieved a Speed Score of 24.79, with top download speeds of 70.54 Mbps and top upload speeds of 85.38 Mbps. The fixed network award is based on 48,404,707 customer-initiated Speedtest nationwide for Q1-Q2 2020.

Ookla PLDT Speed Score

Meanwhile, Smart posted a Speed Score of 18.33, with average download speeds of 15.94 Mbps and average upload speeds of 7.57 Mbps, based on 2,810,963 user-initiated tests taken with Speedtest in the Philippines for the period Q1-Q2 2020.

Ookla Smart Speed Score

Speed Score is a measure that takes into account both upload and download speeds.

COVID impact on network

These results take into account the impact of COVID-19 and the community quarantines on the network.

According to Ookla data, average download speeds dipped at the beginning of the community quarantines. This was due to internet traffic moving from central business districts to more residential areas as people began working remotely from home and going online for services such as online banking, shopping, and video streaming and gaming, to name a few.

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Smart’s speeds have since recovered to 20.12 Mbps in July, due to subsequent network optimization efforts such as reallocating its assigned 1800MHz frequency from 2G to 4G/LTE. PLDT and Smart have also taken steps to significantly expand network capacity, particularly for data internet transport.

For example, PLDT has increased the capacity of its international cable systems to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan by 1 Terabit/s within a few weeks after the start of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures, significantly increasing capacity for content and traffic coming from overseas.

Investment in network transformation

The latest Ookla awards come amid years of sustained investments in the expansion and upgrade of PLDT and Smart’s network, which has amounted to nearly PHP 260 billion in overall capital expenditure (capex) spend over the past five years.

In 2019, the PLDT Group’s capex reached a record PHP 72.9 billion. Moreover, 2020 capex is expected to reach PHP 70 billion despite the slowdown in network rollout due to the quarantine controls imposed in the second quarter of this year.

This capex program enabled PLDT and Smart to build the digital infrastructure needed to support the deployment first of 4G/LTE and later 5G. This involved, first of all, the deployment of an extensive optic fiber network. The PLDT Group’s fiber network is the most pervasive in the country and extends to over nearly 360,000 kilometers as of June 2020.

Smart’s 5G mobile phone network also recently went live. In this initial phase of its commercial deployment, Smart Signature, Infinity and other Smart postpaid subscribers will be able to enjoy the super-fast data service of Smart 5G in key business districts of Metro Manila using Smart-certified handsets with 5G-activated SIMs.

Bryan is a tech and gadget enthusiast who spends his day blogging, writing fiction, and watching NBA clips on YouTube.

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